I have friends who are at the tail-end of a pretty fantastic sabbatical trip through Europe. They're spending their last little while in a flat in London and had room for guests and invited me to come hang out. I thought this was a crazy idea. I live in a pretty inaccessible place (when I lived in a place conducive to travel, I had a job that just about let me go to my own house, never mind across an ocean -- such is irony) and the timing was such that I had no more than a few days to get over there.
But here's the thing: I'm living somewhere that is really not me. I'm a city person, I thrive on having energy around me, on things to do and crowds of anonymous people buzzing through their own busy lives. I do not live in a city at present. I guess you would call where I live a town. I call it the middle of nowhere, because I am not used to anything like this. And they were inviting me to London. A city. With buildings and people and lights and cars and restaurants and cafes and theaters and noise and public transportation that will break down and not work and traffic that will take forever to navigate and crowds on sidewalks that have to be avoided. Oh. My. God. Do you know how I miss every incredibly annoying thing that comes with living in a city? I MISS ALL OF THEM. (Aside: I said to someone recently that my theory of the John/Sherlock relationship is that John truly loves all of the things that everyone else considers annoying about Sherlock. That is possibly how I feel about cities.)
And I was getting depressed where I was, I could feel it. I'm an extrovert, so I draw energy from having people around me, even if they are anonymous people, and there is just not enough of that here for me. I was winding down a bit, pulling myself through syrup, trying to get inspired to do anything. I couldn't write, which is a red flag to me. I was bored out of my mind, and lonely, and desperate to be anywhere else. And my mother could sense it, I could tell, because when I said, "I'm thinking of going to London for a weekend," she answered, "Yes, I think you should."
So that was the end of that, and I went to London for a weekend, and it was a total crazy person thing to do, and I had a BLAST. As soon as I got on the Tube, it stalled in a station, and I was like, "Yes! My well-documented ability to cause subways to break continues!" The funny thing was that I finally got to the flat where my friends were staying and we were clearly all so desperate to just have SOCIAL INTERACTION that we sat for a long time and just talked. I was like, "This is just like when I visit you in Boston, only then I sit in your living room on Tumblr." And then eventually I got hungry, and so then we went to a cafe and just talked. Wait. Let me say that again: WE WENT TO A CAFE. Do you know how happy I was for there to be a cafe? One that I liked? One that served me a pot of tea and understood that you might just want to sit around for a little while because that is the point of a cafe? Oh, my God, it was like *heaven.* It was wonderful.
We did eventually actually *do* things in London. Actually, first we rented a car and drove to see friends in a little village outside of Bristol. It was terrifying and I am reminded again why every time I go to England I'm like, "This is the last time I rent a car in England," and then I always convince myself to do it again AND THAT IS THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY, ISN'T IT? But whatever, it was *so* fun to see our friends, who we literally haven't seen in years. The last time I saw these friends, I was a couple of months away from quitting my law firm job and embarking on this brand new adventure, and it was nice to see that things had changed about me, that I *am* happier, even if sometimes the QUIET all around me makes me want to claw my brain out of my head. (The flat in London was directly on this incredibly busy street. I fell asleep to drunken laughter and sirens up and down the street and I haven't slept so incredibly well in months.) Anyway, we had a wonderful time visiting and I wish we all lived closer so we could see each other every few months instead of every few years.
Then we went back to London and did MORE SOCIALIZING. I did more socializing during three days in London than I have in the past three months. There were a variety of fan people over in London at the same time I was, and we met up with a couple and ate at Wagamama. Here I am going to utter blasphemy. Ready? Here you go: The Wagamama in Boston is better. At least at chicken chili men. But that's probably just me. After Wagamama, we watched CHILDREN IN NEED. LIVE. Do you know how many years I've been hearing about this Children in Need and watching the little Doctor Who specials and wondering, "WHAT IS THIS THING." It was amaaaaaaazing to watch live. It was fascinating. I feel complete now that I've gotten to do that.
When I knew I was going to be in London, I asked a couple of Twitter peeps if they wished to organize some kind of meet-up thing. trillsabells organized the hell out of the meet-up, okay? She is an amazing organizer. And flawedamythyst is a nice counter to Trills because she tells her to breathe every once in a while. Their idea was that we should meet up and go to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, where I'd actually never been. Amy was very excited about this because she could use it to demonstrate to me that there's no way Sherlock would ever take a taxi to get from Baker Street to Regents Park (she was right, and that's why Britpicks exist -- thank you, darling!). We tweeted about it, and a truly fabulous group of people turned out. Seriously, they are ALL SO AMAZING and it was so much fun to meet all of them and again I ask why there is an entire ocean between all of us, because I had so much fun hanging out with all of them and talking not just about Sherlock but a lot about Sherlock and fics and writing but also lots of other stuff because they were just all so cool.
And wait, I haven't even said anything yet about the Sherlock Holmes Museum. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN TO THE SHERLOCK HOLMES MUSEUM YOU HAVE TO GO. WATSON'S BEDROOM IS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN. The entire museum is this curious little collection of random things, but Watson's bedroom, which doesn't have a bed and is decorated entirely as a shrine to Sherlock Holmes, is my favorite thing on the planet. I am so happy to know it exists. I have not laughed as hard in a long time as I did in Watson's bedroom. I laugh every time I even think about John Watson in the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Oh, there is going to be a fic about this room, you guys. Brace yourselves for it. And do yourselves a favor and go to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Seriously.
After the Sherlock Holmes Museum, we went to a pub so that I could have an authentic pub experience, which I ruined by having nachos, but I did have Pimm's! So there's that! And we talked loudly about slash fanfiction and probably irritated all the football fans but whatever. After the pub we went to Regents Park so that Amy could prove her point, and also so that I could see where Sherlock and John would have taken Oliver to feed the ducks. I now want to re-write that scene, because clearly what would have happened when Sherlock went to feed the ducks is that they would have swarmed all around him and Oliver and Sherlock would have been like, "WHAT THE HELL, DUCKS ARE DEMON ANIMALS," and run away and the ducks would have pursued them and Oliver would have cried and cried and hated ducks for the rest of his life.
It was weird to be in Regents Park. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's the first place I've really written a lot about that I had never been before. And that I could actually go to. Unlike, say, a TARDIS. So it was strange to finally have a milieu in which to put all my characters in my head. Regents Park features in "Letters," too--if you remember, what Sherlock wants from John is for them to be hand-in-hand in Regents Park--and so I walked around it with all these overlapping visions, all these AUs in the park and it's strange, it's a little like existing in the real world and all in your head, all at the same time. jupiter_ash also came out for the meet-up and reminded me that Sherlock and John go for a run together in Regents Park in "A Study in Winning," and I was like, "Oh, yes! That's right!" and it's kind of like how many ghost versions of Sherlock and John can you fit into a single park? A LOT.
We did a lot of wandering aimlessly, which was lovely. At one point we had a fully written fic in which Sherlock lost Oliver in Regents Park after putting him in a fenced-in area for safe keeping from which Oliver escaped. I couldn't decide if it was funnier if Oliver went straight home right away while Sherlock searched high and low for him before finally giving up and admitting to John that he'd lost the child...while John had had him all along and had been worrying about what trouble *Sherlock* had been getting in to. Or if it was funnier if Oliver just followed Sherlock all over Regents Park while Sherlock looked for him, and Mycroft watched the pair of them on CCTV, thinking it hilarious, and finally Sherlock admitted defeat and went to tell John he'd lost Oliver, and John was like, "...He's right behind you." It's kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure fic. You choose the version you prefer!
After we got kicked out of the cafe at Regents Park (the only problem with London places is they all close so early NO MATTER WHAT LONDONERS TRY TO TELL YOU), we went to this Christmas market on the South Bank (I think?), near the London Eye, because everyone in the meet-up said it's the view of London that convinces you it's beautiful and you should come back over and over. I love that they think I need to be convinced of this, I'd just flown all the way across an ocean for four days because I couldn't resist London. London is totally beautiful, it's gorgeous and busy and undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world, and I do not need at all to be convinced of this.
Anyway, the Christmas market was packed to the gills. I made a mental note that there is no way John would ever take Oliver to a Christmas market and there was no way Sherlock would last more than twenty seconds at one. Sherlock would think it was the end of all civilization, I think. But I, of course, loved it. It was super-festive and yes, it was a bit much with the people but I haven't been around people in a while so it was all good. And I had mulled wine! I've never had mulled wine before but it seemed like a Christmas-y British thing to do, especially since I'm pretty sure I have John drinking it in the Christmasfic and the day had been all about making my fics come to life. So I stood and drank mulled wine on London's South Bank and listened to crazy stories about the crazy British school system and marveled at how I'm basically the luckiest person on the entire planet to get to have done this.
My travel day back on Sunday was a mess because of the crazy, terrifying weather that happened in the middle of the U.S. I connected through O'Hare (this broke my rule about Never Flying To O'Hare but when you live in the middle of nowhere you can't be choosy about how your flights work) and O'Hare was a complete zoo. O'Hare is like the DMV of airports. It is always overly crowded, at every single gate, at all hours. It's amazing to me. I was jetlagged and my computer was dead because I'd worked on the flight back and forget getting near an outlet to charge it, so I literally laid on the floor behind a bank of departure TV screens (there was no room at any of the gates) and contemplated Sherlock connecting through O'Hare with Oliver and how he'd doubtless start some kind of international incident (I feel like Sherlock at some point would be like, "I don't know how airports don't have more murders than any other place, given how annoying everyone in an airport is," and then Oliver would point out that they don't let you take weapons away and then they'd debate what you could get into an airport and still use to kill people and John would be like, "Can you please stop--" and then the NSA would arrest them) and Mycroft would have to fix it and would demand of John how they had even ended up at O'Hare in the first place and John would have said something like, "You know, sometimes I forget that I am literally the husband AND the father of the two most incredibly difficult humans on the planet."
So, anyway, that was my weekend trip to London and I had a wonderful time and THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who came out for the meet-up on Saturday. You were seriously all delightful and I was so excited to meet all of you and now I feel I can brag about how I've met you and that makes me very happy.
Next time I go, I'm going to Eton.
omg, it sounds wonderful. i once spent a long weekend in london (four days) and packed in theater and the nat'l portrait gallery and liberty and the v&a. it was bliss.
i'm really quite pleased you got to go. it's good for you, and you sound happy.
How silly I am. I clicked expecting a few photos. This account was AMAZING.
I am the exact opposite of a city fan (I avoid driving into Denver just 15 minutes south of me), but I love London. I love its presence and walks and history.
And I adore the Sherlock Holmes museum. I have a pin from there, and a cup, but the real treasure was the bookstore across the street from it. The proprietor talked to us for a good 2 hours; she knew everything about Sherlock, the character and his creator. What a delightful visit.
I'm so glad you went. It sounds like a monstrously good time. I'm glad you're back safe and shared your wonderful trip.
I am so glad you had a wonderful time and so sad I wasn't in London that weekend to come to the meet up and meet you!
I totally agree about Watson's bedroom - and I'm very much looking forward to the fic :)
Oh, and Regent's Park is also where John set a bit of his treasure hunt for Sherlock in one of my fics, if you want to overlay another 'ghost' on your mental map!
OMG, that's sounds like heaven! So, Watson's bedroom has no bed and is a shrine to Sherlock? How is this a surprise, really?!!! I love it.
I love how your mind works, too. I think I like the story where Oliver follows behind Sherlock and he's right behind him when he gets back, ready to confess.
And the airport story? That would be fantastic.
I'm so glad you were able to see your friends and recharge. We all need that kind of thing sometimes.
I'm so glad you were able to get away and have a fabulous adventure.
Airports - sweet jumping Jehoshaphat I hate O'Hare...not as much as I hate Atlanta, but it's a near thing. Also, those storms were scary as hell. (All Sunday evening the wind was wicked, and four tornados touched down in my county.)
London - is a place I have never been (except for the airport for connecting flights). Summer after 1L, I was offered an internship in London. My husband is a teacher and he was going to come with me and it was going to be a grand adventure of 3 months in London. Unfortunately, the coordinator of the internship program wasn't able to find housing for a family (our son was 15 months old at the time.) I couldn't fathom leaving my baby for three months, so I didn't go. It's one of the great regrets of my life.
Regents Park - please write Sherlock losing Oliver in the park, that would be fabulous. :-)
Wonderful! I’m so glad you enjoyed being here and that you were thoroughly looked after. Oh and inspired . . . I can’t wait to read all these fics that are swimming around in your head (especially if they involve Oliver!). (I have to tell you that I’m still chuckling over Oliver calling Mycroft “client” – I can’t stop laughing at that!!).
Brilliant that you were actually able to go to 221B and ”…laugh every time I even think about John Watson in the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Oh, there is going to be a fic about this room, you guys. Brace yourselves for it.”
Bracing, bracing . . .
I go to Regents Park every summer to the Open Air Theatre (more connections, as Benedict performed there when he was younger) and each time I go I, too, feel ”… and it's kind of like how many ghost versions of Sherlock and John can you fit into a single park? A LOT.” It’s really hard not to think about Sherlock and John when you’re in that area of London.
I’m sorry I couldn’t get to London when you were there, and this weekend I’m going to Bristol, too. (Football though, not sightseeing!). But it sounds as if you had the most marvellous time that you could have had – doing all the things that you really wanted to do and you managed to pack so much into such a short time!
”It's kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure fic. You choose the version you prefer!”
*grin* Can’t wait!!
I am so glad that you enjoyed London. As a Londoner, I get to enjoy All things Sherlock on a weekend whenever I like. The Museum is like one of my favourite places, the first time i went a few years ago I was in there for over an hour staring in fascination.
I love that you have been able to be in the places you have envisaged for your different verses, it absolutely makes a difference to how you see things and write things.
I hope you get to Eton the next time you visit. ;)
Oh, that all just sounds amazing!! I realized last week that my passport just expired a few months ago, which really makes me sad... I would love to go back to London!!
I would really love the Oliver-following-Sherlock around the park fic, and also, of course, the O'Hare fic (it was completely jammed yesterday, but since I was getting off a plane I was only in the airport for a grand total of about 5 minutes- we'll have to see how next Saturday goes!)
So glad you had such an awesome trip. Hope you are having fun at home, now, too!!
So glad you had such a great trip!
"O'Hare is like the DMV of airports." As someone who grew up with the NJ DMV and travels through O'Hare regularly, I laughed myself silly when I read this. Yes, this! (The only airport that is worse is the Philly airport. I adore the city, but airport in Philly is a mean, mean airport. I avoid it whenever possible. You should too. :-) )
I said to someone recently that my theory of the John/Sherlock relationship is that John truly loves all of the things that everyone else considers annoying about Sherlock.
IT WAS ME! IT WAS ME! (Well, if you mean in an answer to a comment at least.) :D
I couldn't write, which is a red flag to me.
And an unacceptable situation for your readers. I suggest we present a petition calling for you getting a post in Boston. Your fics are in stake!
I laugh every time I even think about John Watson in the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Oh, there is going to be a fic about this room, you guys. Brace yourselves for it.
Oh yes, do it! I can imagine the scene.
SHERLOCK: John, I think this bedroom is a wonderful idea. I think we should do the same at the flat. A bedroom entirely to my glory.
OLIVER: No no no no no!
SHERLOCK: You're right, Oliver. To our glory.
JOHN: I knew that taking you here was an awful idea.
I now want to re-write that scene, because clearly what would have happened when Sherlock went to feed the ducks is that they would have swarmed all around him and Oliver and Sherlock would have been like, "WHAT THE HELL, DUCKS ARE DEMON ANIMALS," and run away and the ducks would have pursued them and Oliver would have cried and cried and hated ducks for the rest of his life.
That happened to me when I was a little girl, except it was a swan. My grandfather took me to the park and the bloody bird chased us. We had a narrow escape. :D
Sherlock wants from John is for them to be hand-in-hand in Regents Park
I hope ducks won't attack them, that would kill the mood.
I was like, "Oh, yes! That's right!" and it's kind of like how many ghost versions of Sherlock and John can you fit into a single park? A LOT.
You love Verity Burns' fics too, don't you? It's in Regent's Park that Sherlock realises he's in love with John in The Road Less Traveled, and that Moriarty makes his first frightening appearance in The Heart in the Whole. Such an inspiring place for fanfic writers!
At one point we had a fully written fic in which Sherlock lost Oliver in Regents Park after putting him in a fenced-in area for safe keeping from which Oliver escaped.
To take revenge on the ducks, I suppose. :D
It's kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure fic. You choose the version you prefer!
I prefer the version in which it's clear for Sherlock from the beginning that Oliver is perfectly safe in the park (because Mycroft's men are around or something) because otherwise it would be angst! (And you know how I feel about angst when Ollie is in stake. :D) I imagine how Sherlock would feel if he thought he had lost Oliver and that anything could happen to the baby, how helpless and terrified he would feel. *is horrified* Earlgreytea, how dare you? :D
I made a mental note that there is no way John would ever take Oliver to a Christmas market
Oh come on, you just have to scream, "Oh my God I've just seen Benedict Cumberbatch at the other end of the street!" and you'll have the market just for you. :D
and there was no way Sherlock would last more than twenty seconds at one.
Unless John tells him that a very interesting crime took place there some years before.
I've never had mulled wine before but it seemed like a Christmas-y British thing to do, especially since I'm pretty sure I have John drinking it in the Christmasfic
You have! And the fact that it's the scene when Sherlock kisses him for the first time has nothing to do with the fact that I remember that. *coughs*
Next time I go, I'm going to Eton.
And that will inspire you an out-take to Saving Sherlock Holmes, great! :D
I hope this trip did you good and you feel better now and you can write again (she says in a very self-interested way). I also hope you'll find a post in a real city soon! :-)
Aha! This is why you left me a prompt for mulled wine, isn't it?
I'm glad you had a good weekend; I very much envy your ability to get up and go, and do all sorts of fun and fantastic things (fannish and otherwise) and I think I shall probably spend the next sixteen years living vicariously through you. If that's all right, anyway.
(And yes, the Sherlock Holmes Museum is hysterical. I spent most of it laughing at the costumes the employees were wearing. And trying to determine the views out of the windows. And exactly how Emily would be kidnapped out the back!)